Monday, February 11, 2008

Article: Rip This Book? Not Yet.

The question posed in the article is whether consumer book digitization is something that we're on the verge of seeing. Steven Levy, the article's author, believes that the fact that consumers can purchase their own book digitization equipment shows that the industry will soon go through some turbulence. Imagine people digitizing their own book collections so they can decide which books to carry with them? (As we now carry our music with us.) What would that do to the industry if people really could digitize books themselves?

Levi did test the BookSnap by Atiz and said:
Then I tested a BookSnap for myself. Short verdict: not a revolution. More a thud than a snap, the device—an ominous three-foot high construction draped with a thick black darkroom-style shade—looks like a Goth puppet theater and weighs 44 pounds. Under the shade is an angled cradle for a book and a glass platen to hold the pages down during scanning. You turn the pages yourself. It costs $1,600, not including the two Canon digital cameras (about $500 each) necessary to capture the page images and send them to your computer, where software transforms the pictures into files that can be read on a screen or an e-book reader. It takes considerable fiddling to get images set up properly. Supposedly, once you get started you can digitize 500 pages per hour, much faster and at higher quality than with flatbed scanners (which are much cheaper but not optimized for book scanning). I never got that far, but I imagine such a feat would require considerable caffeination.
The first version of a new product is what sets the stage for what follows. Can the equipment get smaller? Sleeker? Easier? Time will tell.

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